Thursday, December 27, 2012

super body scrubs

Body scrubs are an essential part of any shower-time ritual (and I should know, I've got about three tubs of scrub going in my shower).  Not only does scrubbing yourself down feel like an indulgent spa ritual but it will keep the skin on your body younger longer.  Just like on your face, exfoliating your body encourages cell turnover rate - an important factor in anti-aging.  Smooth, silky skin is another benefit, as well as a releasing of toxins and debris.  I recommend scrubbing before any shaving routine for a smoother shave that will help prevent ingrown hairs.

There are all kinds of body scrubs out there, some with additional targeted results such as hydrating, slimming, or invigorating - so I've picked a range of scrubs that I want to talk about, each totally fantabulous in their own right.

Sugar scrubs are extremely popular because they are gentle and hydrating and usually smell scrumptious.  My all time favorite sugar scrub is the natural Carol's Daughter Brown Sugar Scrub.  In an almond oil base, this scrub is hydrating as well as exfoliating.  Once the sugar crystals scrub away your dead skin, they dissolve deliciously into your body and the oil lingers to retain moisture all day long.  But best of all is the heavenly scent of brown sugar and chocolate!

On the other end of the spectrum is the clinical Derma Doctor's KP Duty Body Scrub.  Although it is specifically formulated to get rid of those little red "chicken skin" bumps (keratosis pilaris = KP), it serves as a wonderful body scrub for almost any skin type.  The secret to its success is that it combines glycolic acid with gentle synthetic scrubbing beads.  KP Duty does double duty!  And the beads don't dissolve on contact, but stick around to do the job they were meant to do, and the nice big tub will last you forever.

Another type of scrub is the salt scrub.  This type is often used at spas because it is a natural form of exfoliation that does thorough work while the mineral content is nourishing for your skin.  For the smoothest of smooth, I recommend Sinfulicious Mineral Body Scrub.  You can customize your scent (I like the ginger, pink grapefruit, ylang ylang combo) for an uplifting shower experience, but whatever fragrance you choose, the scrub itself will leave your skin velvety beyond velvety.

Slimming scrubs are usually used in conjunction with a body slimming serum or cream, but used alone they also serve as excellent detoxification.  Caudalie Crushed Cabernet Scrub drains excess fluid and can potentially minimize the look of cellulite.  Made with crushed grapeseeds and grapeseed oil, it is packed with antioxidants and is gentle on the skin - no tugging or tearing here.  I particularly love it because it is a French product and the French rule when it comes to spa treatments for the body.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

last minute stocking stuffer ideas

I am one of those annoying people who gets their holiday shopping done early.  But it's mostly because I love to give gifts.  And of course any excuse to shop......
I think most people leave the pesky stocking stuffer shopping until the last minute and end up scouring Walgreen's at 9 pm Christmas eve, only to end up with SpongeBob bandaides, Schick Razors, and VO5 hot oil treatment.  But that doesn't have to happen.  Even if you wait til nearly the last moment possible there are still bound to be some cute gifts out there - don't settle for the Nivea hand cream cream.  For example you could look for:

Sephora Collection Nail Wand is an absolutely adorable stack of mini nail polishes in luxe colors. It is irresistible to girls and women of any age - a no-brainer for anyone that does their own nails.

Fresh Oval Soap comes in a variety of sensuous fragrances, from the light and citrusy cintron de vigne to the earthy patchouli.  The highest quality triple-milled soap, it comes wrapped in the most delicate and delightful paper.  The ideal gift.

Bobby Brown Tube Tint Trio are universally flattering lip glosses that work for Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.  If you buy into the theory that a gal can never have too many lip glosses, this trio will fit the bill.  And who doesn't love Bobby Brown?

Belle Fleur Classic Floral Petite Trio  candles come in sophisticated-looking tortuous shell votives and smell simply divine.  The trick here is to divide up the gift box and give the candles to three different recipients.

Marvis Toothpaste is a fun and funky import from England.  What may be an everyday staple to the British translates into something exotic stateside.  Go conservative and pick 'strong mint', or go exotic and choose 'ginger mint' or jasmin mint'.

Tarina Tarantino Jewel Mirror is a cool oval compact that will jazz up any makeup bag.  Perfect for the girly-girl who always has to have a little bling.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

magnificent mascaras: which one is right for you?

I have spent the last thirty-odd years searching for the perfect mascara, but just when I think I have finally found it, I go and change my mind.  True, I am inordinately picky, but I am not convinced that the Holy Grail of mascaras actually exists. On the plus side, this means I have tried a whole lotta different mascaras and I can attest to which ones are near perfect.  Or in other words which ones are BEST.  I can give you a list, but I must break it down into different types of mascara because what one woman may want in a mascara (ie.volume) another may want to avoid.  Of course there are some qualities we all cherish, such as no clump, no smudge, no flake, and I can truthfully say that all the following mascaras have passed my own rigorous testing of flake/smudge/clump.  So I will continue my search for the absolute most perfect mascara out there, but until then you can certainly be happy with any of the following:

Dior Show Extase Mascara (pronounced "ecstasy") is favored by many of the more glamorous professional makeup artists.  In most cases just one coat will do ya, but if you are an extremist go for more!

Blinc Mascara coats each lash in a miniscule tube of non-irritating protective color.  This stuff will absolutely never smudge or budge unless you wipe it away with warm water on a cotton pad (note the gentle removal).  It gives a more natural look, so don't be expect anything too voluminous, but most women with sensitive eyes are grateful to have found this.

Lancome Oscillation Mascara is the ultimate.  At first I thought the oscillating wand was just a gimick, but after trying a free sample I immediately realized they were on to something.  For years I used this to make my lashes as long as possible - it truly took them to dizzying heights.  And no need for a lash curler here.

Buxom Lash is my favorite.  It gives a nice full look without a lot of drama.  And better yet it does it all without parabens, petrochemicals, synthetic dyes or fragrances, sulfates, and phthalates.

it's two-way tie.  I am forever going back and forth between Chanel Inimitable and Benefit They're Real.
Chanel Inimitable is class all the way. Think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.  Two quick coats of this will give you just about all that you could ask for.
Benefit They're Real is pretty close to the perfect mascara in my book.  The only thing to keep it from perfection is that the tube dries up fairly fast.  Still, I buy it because even though I may not quite get my money's worth out of it, my lashes never look better.

*** Months later, I have found my perfect mascara - perfect that is, for volume length & curl.  It's Maybelline The Rocket Volume Express and my lashes have never looked bigger bolder brighter or more beautiful.  And I love to have found a drugstore brand that doesn't flake or smudge.  You gotta try it!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

serums: bringing in the big guns

While it's important to use a moisturizer that targets your skincare concerns, what will truly make a difference is a serum.  Serums are high intensity problem solvers that go above and beyond what a mere moisturizer can do.  You may think of serums as just anti-aging devices but there is an endless variety of serums to target any number of issues:  hydrating, protecting, firming, anti-wrinkle, dark spot correcting, soothing, even acne fighting.  Just don't be shocked by the sticker price.  Serums are generally on the expensive side, simply because they have such an extreme level of active ingredients.  That said, a little goes a long way - just a drop will do you.  There are so many fantabulous serums out there, but here are just a few of the more popular ones that may meet your needs:

ANTI-WRINKLE:  Algenist Concentrated Reconstructing Serum gives the best results the fastest.  I have clients coming into the store that buy it in bulk.  The secret to its success is the bio-molecular formula of alguronic acid:  AKA sea algae.  Sea algae is known for its wonderful anti-aging properties and Algenist has put a spin on it so that you get powerful results from this humble ingredient.

EXFOLIATING:  Perricone MD Blue Plasma is the way to go for youthful resurfacing.  It is a brand new product hot off the laboratories of skincare guru Dr. Perricone.  Perricone is vehemently anti-scrub and feels that the best way to exfoliate is with gentle acids.  This serum is a  daily exfoliator that speeds up skin cell turnover to leave you looking younger and more radiant.  It is also a fabulous solution for enlarged pores.  Blue Plasma contains purifying ingredients and patented hydrating ingredients that makes it optimal for virtually any skin type.

ANTI-OXIDANT PROTECTION:  Skinceuticals wrote the book on anti-oxidant serum.  They have the most potent formulas I have have come across - absolutely perfect for protecting and repairing sun damage.  All their anti-oxidants contain the strongest, most beneficial form of vitamin C to fight free-radicals, and firm and smooth already compromised skin.  These serums are definitely on the expensive end of the spectrum but they also provide the most dramatic results.

BRIGHTENING/DARK SPOT ELIMINATING:  Dr. Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution  really does the trick.  And it is strong!  Anything and everything, from natural to clinical, that combats dark spots, is in this serum.  But Dr. Gross truly knows his stuff and all is formulated for minimal irritation.  One of the most effective skincare lines out there, you can never go wrong with anything from Dr. Gross.
ECONOMY:  Bare Minerals Active Cell Renewal Night Serum is half the cost of the serums mentioned above, yet it does a little bit of everything that they do.  There is smoothing, exfoliating, plumping, and hydrating. Think of it as a combined effort at a budget-friendly price.  What makes it unique however is the Active Soil Complex.  This mineral and electrolyte rich ingredient is a super moisturizer that boosts the skin's own capacity for hydration. Not everyone realizes how great Bare Minerals skincare is and that, in my book, is a grave oversight.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

shower time

I am not a morning person and it takes an awful lot to get me going first thing.  Coffee helps some but a gorgeous shower ritual also gives me motivation and something to look forward to.  I am all about the products - lovely smells and luscious textures and formulas.  I have so many faves, but for the sake of brevity I will offer you up the top of the top.  Here is a fantastic ritual to try:

First I set the atmosphere by lighting a fragrant candle.  LAFCO makes a candle specifically for the bathroom.  From their House and Home collection the Bathroom Marine candle is a fresh scent of ocean air.  The substantial white glass jar is also a pleasing touch to keep your bathroom looking crisp and clean.

Of course I start off the shower with a luxurious cleanser, and Molton Brown makes some of the best.  It's fun because it's British but the formula and fragrance are what really make it.  Thick and smooth, the gel comes in the most unusual scents - but nothing overpowering, just the right amount of smell to lift your spirits.  Try their very popular Heavenly Gingerlilly, Relaxing Yuan Zhi, Paradise Pink Pepperpod, or Warming Eucalyptus.

Next comes the shave - something I think all of us hate to have to do, but I've got just the trick to make it more pleasurable, and more effective.  Apply whatever shave cream or shower gel you like to a badger bristle shaving brush.  Yes, that old-fashioned shaving tool usually associated with men.  But here's the rub, it will give you a super foamy and smooth shave for anywhere from your bikini line to your legs.  It has the added benefit of lightly exfoliating and lifting the hair stubble up to get a closer shave.  I highly recommend it!

After your shower, while your skin is still damp, is the best time to apply a dry body oil.  This is an important step to keep your skin young and supple, not to mention hydrated.  Apply it everywhere!   There was a study done that women who regularly hydrated their breasts had less wrinkling and sagging than those who did not.  And for the ultimate in anti-aging body care try Bija Body Serum.  This all natural oil is chock-a-block with hydrating honey and anti-oxidants.  It smells fantastic and has a wonderfully absorbing formula - go the extra mile!

The final step is body lotion, or for me I prefer a luxe body butter.  Nothing but a rich body butter will do to soothe my freshly shaved legs, and Sephora's Super Supreme Body Butter is the best I have come across.  This fun tub contains a cream that is extremely hydrating without being sticky or greasy.  The smell is pretty and the giant container will last you forever.  It is so good I have been using it consistently for years and years.
Hmmmm....this is making me want to go take a shower now!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

time to switch your products for Winter

It seems kind of crazy for me to be blogging about how to step up your hydration for winter when it's been in the 90's all week here in California.  But it is after all October, and the rest of the country is probably turning on their heaters and drying out their skin.

If you haven't thought of adjusting your skincare regimen for the seasons consider this:  you change your clothes according to seasons and weather, so it is just as important to modify your products to meet your skin's changing needs.  You wouldn't wear shorts and a T shirt in November and neither should you be using that gel cleanser and light weight moisturizer at that time of year.  The air is drier, the weather harsher, and the heating systems can really do a number on your skin, so consider switching to some (or all!) of these products.

First off, I would recommend switching your cleanser to a cream or oil.  My all-time fave hydrating cleanser is NUDE Perfect Cleansing Oil For Face And Eyes.  It is all natural with a hefty dose of probiotics for healthier skin, and will remove makeup like nobody's business.  Don't worry about feeling greasy or not clean enough, I promise you a thorough clean from this baby. The oil attracts dirt and oil, grabs onto it and lifts it all away.  That's chemistry for you!

Step two is a hydrating serum or oil.  Fresh has a brand new one out that is taking the world by storm.  I adore Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil because it absorbs like a dream - no greasiness what so ever. Still, if you are leery about using an oil you can just apply it at night.  Or use it instead of your moisturizer.  But I know there are a lot of you out there that will be so dry this Winter that you will be grateful to be putting this on underneath your regular moisturizer.  I say take advantage of this anti-oxidant formula with restorative omega 3 oils.

Finish your regimen off with an extra hydrating moisturizer.  iS Clinical Moisturizing Complex is a fantastic moisturizer that is super hydrating yet paradoxically light weight.  Loaded with hyaluronic acid and soluble collagen, it is a professional brand recommended by estheticians, so you know you will be doing something good for your skin.

It is also very likely that besides all this regular nourishing you will need to give your skin an extra boost of hydration with a weekly hydrating mask.  Origins Drink Up mask does a fantastic job at a reasonable price.  Use this all natural mask up to twice a week and don't forget to do a little exfoliation first so that the ingredients can really penetrate.

Et Voila, dewy, glowy skin even in the dead of winter.  Because don't forget, dehydrated skin will visually add years of aging to your face.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

warm fragrances for cool weather

How can something be meltingly mellow and sexily stimulating at the same time?  I don't know, but these fragrances somehow manage to do it.  They've got enough spice, enough amber, enough sultry floral to warm you up during these cold Winter months.  If they were a color they'd be burgundy, if they were a singer they'd be Barry White, and if they were a woman they'd be Liv Tyler/Cate Blanchett/Angelina Jolie all rolled into one.  Check them out.....

Jo Malone Wild Fig and Cassis is the epitome of winter fragrance.  It is cold nights spent lounging by the fire in your satin pajamas.  Maybe even in the library if you have one, with a dashing dark English man smoking a pipe in the background.  Dusky fig is emphasized by the cedarwood, but balanced with hyacinth, and the light and jazzy cassis.  

For those of you who hate to get heavy no matter what the weather, Jimmy Choo is still on the light side.  With notes of green tiger orchid, balanced out with just enough sensual Indonesian Patchouli, and a tad bit of sweet toffee, it is a combination that is infinitely pleasing.  It is the kind of fragrance that you might associate with falling in love - tres romantique!

Caron Nuit de Noel is a spicy oriental that unfurls and unfolds layer of luscious layer of note as you wear it throughout the day or night.  Created in 1922 it is rich, opulent, and classic.  (It's got Dita Von Teese written all over it).  With notes of rose absolu, sandalwood, jasmine, ylang ylang, lily of the valley, vetiver, amber, and iris - plus a secret formula all their own, it is wholly unique and unrepeatable - the perfect signature scent.

For a soft woodsy floral look no further than the sensual Bottega Veneta.  It has a hint of Bergamot, a hint of Brazilian pink pepper, and a healthy dose of Jasmine and mossy earth.  It is just spicy enough to qualify as a Fall/Winter fragrance, but it is pretty enough not to weigh you down. It is so lovely I feel like I could soak in a tub of it, and in fact they make a shower gel too.  Bottega Veneta is sure to attract admirers of both sexes.

deep conditioners that do double duty

My hair is processed and dry but I am far too lazy to shower twice and sit around the house with an intense-conditioning pack on my head.  Thus I have found some wonderful deep conditioners that also work well as daily conditioners:  just 3 minutes or so in the shower while I shave.  And they seem to do the trick, hairdressers always comment on how healthy my hair is.  So when I look for a conditioner I look for serious results.  I want something that hydrates, repairs, and smooths without weighing my hair down - these three conditioners fit the bill:

Fresh Meadowfoam Cream Conditioner excels with natural ingredients of olive, shea butter, wheat herm, and sweet almond oil.  Its star ingredient is meadowfoam - a natural reparative that is deeply healing.  You can always expect superior quality from this luxury brand, so not only is it a powerhouse of productivity but an indulgence as well.
Not recommended for really fine hair.

Living Proof Restore Mask Treatment is called that because it 'restores' hair to nearly its natural virgin state. Living Proof uses its patented technology to repair the protective layer of the hair strand - no wonder it is a big favorite of beauty editors all over. Even better, it is sulphate and paraben free. I recommend you use it in conjunction with the marvelous-smelling Restore shampoo.
OK for fine hair.

Matrix Biolage Hydrating Balm is a heavy-duty hydrator that is designed to be used either daily or weekly depending on how dry and coarse your hair is.  The added feature of this cream is that it locks out humidity and frizz.  You can find it at any beauty supply store because it is a brand that hair stylists prefer.
Definitely not recommended for fine hair.
For me these suffice as daily conditioners, but don't forget that if you are a more patient person, you can also leave them on for 30 - 60 minutes once a week, and have some killer deep conditioning.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

splurge! part deux

My old posting splurge! is easily my most-visited post, so in the manner of Hollywood movies I decided to make a part two.  After all, so much out there is splurge-worthy.  And just to illustrate how important it is for the psyche to splurge on occasion here is a quick story about my friend M.  M was sick for months with bronchitis that turned to a sinus infection that turned into pnenmonia.  She was on antibiotics for days - it was quite depressing for her.  However when I saw her the other day she was radiant.  She had just been to Sephora and bought a new lipstick.  And it wasn't any old lipstick, it was YLS - luxurious and rather pricey. The color brightened up her face and the sheer decadence of her purchase brightened up her mood. So while anti-biotics are necessary, never underestimate the power of a little indulgence.

Every time I tell my coworker that his skin is looking sensational he tells me that he is wearing Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Tinted Treatment Moisturizer SPF 15.  Every single time! Naturally I have concluded that Pacific Amore is the most effective tinted moisturizer out there.  And at $70 it is also probably one of the most expensive.  But hey, if you want baby-smooth skin that glows like an angel, it just might be worth it.

What I find completely irresistible and intriguing is Lancome's Absolue L'Extrait Regenerating Ultimate Elixir.  It is made from the stems of the original Lancome roses whose genetics promote regeneration for firmer and more radiant skin.  It takes up to 2,000,000 of these stem cells to make a jar of Absolue and you will pay accordingly.  But wow, wouldn't you just love to put all that rose on your skin?  Plus the magnificent black and gold packaging will make you feel like royalty.

If it were any other reed diffuser I wouldn't think of spending so much, but for Agraria AirEssence I would do it.  Totally.  First of all, the glass container looks far more classy than its competitors, so it doesn't mar the landscape of your room.  Secondly, the fragrances are compelling - so attractive that I had to buy a variety of several mini jars rather than narrow it down to just one full-sized jar.  Thirdly, there is form AND function.  The fragrance formula truly fills a room and will last for months upon months upon months.  Like they say about a fine leather handbag "yes, but you'll have it forever"

I don't normally describe an underarm deodorant as delightful but in this case I will.  CREED Virgin Island Water Deodorant smells like a trip to the Caribbean.  It is bright, playful, and uplifting - exactly what you need first thing in the morning.  Not to mention that it is a signature scent manufactured by one of the oldest and most prestigious perfume houses in France.  You may think it's kinda crazy to spend this much on a deodorant, but that's only if you haven't smelled it.  Take a trip to Neiman's and you'll see.
So take a page from my friend M's book, go out there and treat yourself to a little luxury.......and don't look back!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

what's good for Fall

Everyone is blogging about Fall "must have" products so I have decided to do it as well.  It may not be an original thought but it bears repeating - especially since there are some very specific things that you could be doing for your skin right now.

Since you will be spending less time out in the sun, this is the right opportunity to start healing the sun damage that you accrued over the Summer.  So..... step #1 start applying vitamin C.  Vitamin C is supreme for sun damage repair:  it brightens dark spots, firms, and softens wrinkles.  Most decent vitamin C serums are on the pricey side but there is one fantastic one that is budget friendly.  Ole Henriksen's Truth Serum is one of the best selling serums all told.  People love it because it is a natural brand, it delivers remarkable improvement, and it smells great - kind of orangey.

And now that you are risking less sun exposure it is also a great time for serious exfoliation.  Book that series of microdermabrasion treatments at your local spa.  Or make an appointment there for a glycolic peel.  You could even do a spa-strength glycolic peel at home with the Brazilian Peel.  This is a 30% glycolic solution that equates to 5 times stronger than other retail glycolic solutions.  And yet it is a non-irritating formula that can be used once a week.  The package comes with four applications so you could do a one month series for yourself and be in tip top shape by the holidays.

Now for the fun stuff.  I think most of you know that navy nails are "in" this Fall. But Dior "Blue Label" Vernis Nail Lacquer is the naviest of navies.  It fact, it is so deep, dark, rich, and velvety that it is both sophisticated and edgy all at the same time. I can't imagine going through these cooler months without it.

There are a few Fall collection eyeshadow palettes out there but I think the Lorac Pro Palette gives you the most for your money.  Lorac is a professional Red Carpet brand of superior quality, and this palett offers everything you could possibly want.  In fact half of the shadows are matt and half are shimmer.  The subdued autumn hues range from delicate nudes to dusky dark shadows - I would buy this palette just for the deep purple shimmer alone.

Fall is the sexiest of the seasons don't you think?  So why not vamp it up with some serious color - just be sure to get your glow on underneath all that artistry with a healthy skincare regimen.

Friday, September 14, 2012

will a neck cream work for you?

Every time I decide to save money and go without neck cream I end up catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and crying out "Yikes!  I need a neck cream!"  Will it get rid of my double chin?   No.  Will it reverse all the sun damage?  No.  But I will without a doubt end up looking younger and tighter.  If you are expecting plastic surgery results from your neck cream you will be disappointed.  However with a good neck cream you will attain a certain "je ne sais quoi", that makes it infinitely better to have a neck cream than to not have a neck cream.  The key is getting a decent one - there are a lot of impotent ones out there.  Through much costly trial and error, along with interviewing clients for their opinion on these matters, I have come up with a few winners that bear results.

Clarins Advanced Extra-Firming Neck Cream is aptly named.  If you are comparing it to other neck creams, it is definitely advanced.  And I can attest that it is definitely extra-firming.  But it also is creamy and hydrating which eliminates any crepeyness, and smoothes out lines and wrinkles.  What ever Clarin's secret formula is they alone know, but it works.  It is also a bit on the pricey side but most clients are so pleased with the results that they are perfectly willing to pay for it.

On the less expensive side is Bliss Spa's Thinny Chin Chin.  Which is also aptly named because the formula is rather, well, thin.  I was amongst those who believed that a neck cream must be thick to really work, but Thinny Chin Chin disabused me of that notion.  I was also a believer that neck creams had to be prohibitively expensive, and once again, Thinny Chin Chin proved me wrong.  Clients who swear by it always exclaim to me: "But it is so cheap!"  Best of all, wearing this neck cream is like holding things together with a teeny tiny invisible suspension bridge.

If your neck and decollete are in serious need of repair you may want to consider using a firming serum underneath your neck cream.  StriVectin has a duo that work wonderfully together.  If you pair StriVectin-TL Tightening Neck Cream with their StriVectin Tightening Face Serum you will be a happy camper indeed.  For some reason I'm not as crazy about using either one of them on their own, but paired together - watch out - you will see instant results. Keep in mind too, that StriVectin has been a leader in anti-aging skincare for over 25 years now.  If you want to test out this combo Sephora has a starter kit that also includes a firming eye serum.
So will a neck cream work for you?  As long as you are not expecting to look like you've had a face lift or liposuction, I think with the right cream you will be very pleased.

Friday, September 7, 2012

a better way to exfoliate

One of the best things you can do for your skin is to exfoliate, and one of the worst things you can do is exfoliate - but it is only the worst if you do it incorrectly.  By incorrectly I mean over-doing it, either exfoliating too frequently or scrubbing.  Skincare guru Dr. Perricone is adamantly anti-scrub and I have to say that for the most part I agree with him.

Scrubbing tugs and tears at the skin and causes friction, so even though it may seem scary to use a glycolic acid mask, it is in fact easier on the skin.  The trick is to use it according to skin type.  For sensitive skin you can leave it on for fewer minutes than the instructions call for.  Or you could try an enzyme or lactic acid which, in general, is gentler on the skin than a most glycolics.  Either way, a once a week exfoliating mask is plenty for all but the most congested skin.

For sensitive skin I adore Phytomer's Peeling Vegetal enzyme exfoliating mask.  It is creamy and mild and smells divine.  It contains healing and moisturizing seaweed so it's pretty impossible to get redness from this professional exfoliator.  Instead you will end up with baby soft skin and a lovely glow.

Another way to go is a mild daily exfoliating pad. This will keep your skin in tip top shape.  Regular exfoliating is important because it speeds up the skin cell turn-over rate (keeps skin young), and it removes dead skin cell layer so that all your great serums and moisturizers can penetrate and work better.

Probably the most popular exfoliating pads are the Dr. Gross Alpha-Beta Daily Face Peel.  They are a combination of 5 different types of glycolic and salicylic acids for ultimate skin sloughing without undue irritation.  I have to say nothing makes my skin look as good as these pads do - they are a must have!  They can be used every day for normal skin, or a couple times a week for sensitive - they will work for virtually everyone.
REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask is beloved by many.  It is a potent exfoliator comprised of fruit acids and enzymes that gives spectacular results.  Even better, it is all natural with none of those nasty parabens or sulfates.  I have yet to meet a person who has tried this and found it lacking - so put it on your shopping list!

No one wants to have skin that looks thin and irritated, and flakiness is for the birds.  So go ahead and exfoliate - any of these products would be a fantastic way to go - but please just don't over do it.  Like everything in life, moderation is key.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

luscious lip balms

Deeply quenching....supremely satisfying....ultimately healing......that's what a lip balm should be.....and hardly any actually are.  I have been on a quest for the perfect lip balm for years, and less than a handful have managed to sufficiently hydrate my permanently dry chapped lips.  So few in fact that this is going to be a rather short post.  BUT the ones that I have found to work I am simply in love with and feel compelled, no obligated, to share with you.  Because I know you are out there, the unsatisfied customer with the uncomfortably dry lips.  You may have to mail order some of these (for now) but I tell you, it'll absolutely be worth it.

Bija Body is an anti-aging body care line that makes a phenomenal lip balm.  Their Bedsidemanner Lip + Treatment is so potent that you only need to use it twice a day.  Not only does it have a high concentrate of honey, and a significant use of Fair Trade ingredients, but they also throw in a lot of plumping peptides, and age-reversing sea algae. Bija is the perfect blend of science and nature. I love Bedsidemanner for it's hydrating qualities, but after a month or so you should also notice an increase in lip fullness.  What a bonus!

Another favorite, Margarita Bloom's Racy & Risque Rosie Rose Absolute Hydrating Lip Balm provides serious soothing.  Margarita Bloom, the retro queen, is all about glamor and yet she uses natural ingredients like sweet almond oil, rosehip oil, and a tad of lanolin to do the heavy lifting.  The very velvety Racy & Risque Rosie gave me lasting (note the keyword here: lasting) relief from my chronic chapped lips, and the faint rose scent made it a luxurious experience all around.  Plus the packaging is loads of fun - who wouldn't want to carry this around in their purse!?

At the bottom of my short list is Rosebud Perfume Co. Strawberry Lip Balm - a cult favorite.  For some of you it may prove slightly controversial because it does contain petrolatum, but I am sorry, petrolatum works.  Many dermatologist recommend it as a lipid barrier, however if you are looking for a natural lip balm this one is not for you.  It does a sensational job though of hydrating and soothing chapped lips.  The company's original lip balm Rosebud Salve is probably their best seller (and it works equally well) but I particularly like the strawberry fragrance as it reminds me of the Bonne Bell Lipsmackers from the 70s.  I make no apologies for the synthetic - all I know is that my lips love it.  Plus the price point is easy on the wallet.

Friday, August 31, 2012

the best drug store buys

As you have probably gathered by now, I am a bit of a beauty snob.  However that in no way means I am above raiding the shelves of my local drug store.  I think the old adage "you get what you pay for" is often true, but what is really exciting is when it turns out to not be true and you get more than your money's worth.  The only problem is that it can take a lot of trial and error to find those low-budget gems.

Allure and other women's magazines put out an anual "best of" list, that usually includes a high-end and a low-end product in each category.  My problem is I don't always agree with them, so I am left to do the experimenting on my own.  Not that I'm complaining mind you, there's nothing I love more than buying and trying beauty items, especially items that I don't have to pay much for. So I am going to give you a list of drugstore recommendations - my very own "best of" list (and yes, I currently have all of the these goodies in my bathroom).

BEST BODY LOTION:  Organix Hydrating Moroccan Argan Oil Creamy Oil Body Lotion
Super hydrating but not thick, absorbs easily without being sticky or greasy.  Pleasant scent  $8.00

BEST NAIL POLISH:  Essie No Chips Ahead Chip-Free Top Coat
Only the best top coat ever - at any price.  (available at Walgreen's) $8.00

BEST FACIAL WIPES:  Burt's Bee's Facial Cleansing Towelettes With White Tea Extract
hard-working, all natural, see Best Working Wipes for all the deets.  $6.00

BEST MASCARA:  Maybelline Volume Express The Falsie's.
Lengthens, volumizes, curls for a dramatic no-smudge eye.  $7.50

BEST LIP STAIN:  Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm/Stain
pretty, hydrating, long-wearing colors $9.00

BEST BIKINI SHAVE:  Bikini Zone Anti-Bumps Shave Gel paired with Bump Fighter Razor
fights bumps and irritation for a smooth shave. gel $5.50  razor $6

BEST DANDRUFF SHAMPOO: Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Care
pleasant smell and gets the job done.  $6.50

BEST ANTI-AGING NIGHT CREAM:  ROC Multi-Correction Lift Anti-Gravity Night Cream
Not too thick, not too thin.  Smooths wrinkles and firms, gives a nice vitamina A glow $28.00

BEST EYE COLOR:  L'Oreal HIP shadows and cream eyeliner
HIP stands for high intensity pigment and it really is.  wears well.